NCPA Executive Update

NCPA Executive Update delivers insights on legislative, regulatory, policy, and industry developments from NCPA CEO B. Douglas Hoey, Pharmacist, MBA, to NCPA members and pharmacy leaders every Friday.

Knowing When to Hold ‘Em and When to Fold ‘Em | NCPA Executive Update | August 11, 2017

by NCPA | Aug 11, 2017

Dear Colleague,

Doug Hoey

“Every gambler knows
That the secret to survivin’
Is knowin’ what to throw away
And knowin’ what to keep”

-- “The Gambler,” recorded by Kenny Rogers and written by Don Schlitz

I don’t know too many pharmacists who like to gamble when it comes to their business. But sometimes, as Kenny Rogers sings, you need to know what to throw away and what to keep to survive.

That’s especially true when it comes to the non-PBM controlled part of your store, like the front end. You need to find a way to differentiate yourself from the big boxes to attract new business and provide an alternative revenue stream that is not subject to PBMs’ take-it-or-leave-it contracts. You need to determine what will work well for your store, given your employees and resources, and what won’t. And that’s where NCPA comes in.

NCPA staffers (myself included) have been on the road nearly every week this summer, exhibiting at wholesaler shows, attending buying group meetings, and speaking to state pharmacy associations. We have had a chance to speak with many of you during our travels to get a pulse on the community pharmacy industry and find out what’s working well in your stores. We’ve continued our research on ways stores can grow their profit margins through diverse revenue opportunities. (We list 20 possibilities on the NCPA website and will expand on many of these topics during live educational programming at the NCPA Annual Convention in Orlando, Fla. this October.)

Gabe Trahan, NCPA’s senior director of store operations and marketing, led a group of 20 pharmacy owners and front-end managers through the Atlanta International Gift Show last month, where they scoped out the latest and greatest gifts and wares to sell in their front ends. Some of Gabe’s top picks from the show include smartphone accessories (such as a phone charging cable to add to a key ring), display box signs with clever quips (his favorite: “Exercise! I thought you said extra fries”), and holiday items such as Old World Christmas ornaments and Transpac giftware. One fad item he does not recommend stocking in your store: fidget spinners (he explains why here).

After attending the show, John Brossart of Brossart Pharmacy, Compounding & Medical Equipment in Cleves, Ohio, said “[NCPA members] need to know there are companies out there that want to give us new and exciting products – not after they can’t sell it to anyone else, but when it is new and fresh.”

Yes, there are companies that want to sell in your stores. They want to provide you with unique selling opportunities on items that can’t be found through wholesalers or the chains. The hardest part is finding these vendors and items, but we take care of that for you through our one-stop shop, Front-End Marketplace, and in the Exhibit Hall at the NCPA Annual Convention (200 companies and counting will be there – some in the Front-End Merchandising Mart – with many offering hot deals you can only get at the show).

Another way you can stay on top of merchandising trends for your front end is to read our biweekly Profit Makers newsletter. You and your front-end staff can sign up for free here.

We understand it can be nerve-wracking to take a gamble on your store’s profits. But with NCPA’s resources, we help to make those business decisions a sure bet.

Doug Hoey